Jan Perkins — a former Santa Ana assistant city manager who is now a private consultant — might be asked to temporarily fill the void created by City Manager Dave Ream’s relatively abrupt retirement after more than 30 years on the job.
Other options include having Ream stay on as interim city manager beyond May 31 — the day he was to say goodbye to City Hall — or having another city executive temporarily manage the city, said Councilman Sal Tinajero.
“At this moment I can’t say exactly what’s going to happen,” Tinajero said. However, he added, “it’s safe to say we won’t have a permanent city manager,” by May 31.
Finding a city executive to be interim city manager could prove challenging, as the city has no assistant city manager and former Deputy City Manager Cindy Nelson, has also recently stepped down.
It’s all part of a major sea change underway at City Hall, one that began with former City Attorney Joe Fletcher’s departure in December. Nelson followed in January, followed by Ream this month.
Council members haven’t come to a decision yet on how the next city manager is going to be chosen, said Councilman David Benavides, but it could include a “full recruitment process,” he said.
If the consulting firm does step in to manage the city in the interim, Perkins, who was Santa Ana’s assistant city manager in the 1980s, would be the one to take the helm, Tinajero said.
Rumors have also been flying among city residents that Perkins, who is a partner with Irvine-based consulting firm Management Partners Inc., is being groomed to take over as permanent city manager. Ream, however, said he doubts she wants the job.
“I don’t think that’s where her interests lie,” Ream said.
If Ream stays on as interim city manager beyond May 31, then it’s also possible that the consulting firm will be asked to assist in day-to-day operations, some council members said.
Management Partners currently has a $98,900 contract to conduct a citywide financial review as the city gets ready to prepare next fiscal year’s budget. Although day to day operations and city management aren’t part of the contract, the contract allows “additional work if we needed it,” Benavides said.
“The daily operations aspect of it is not something that is part of the current contract, but is something that we may ask them to provide some assistance on as well,” Benavides said.
Meanwhile, council members are also gearing up for a series of interviews with applicants to fill the city attorney position.
Friday is the application filing deadline, Benavides said, and a handful of candidates have been lining up for the job.
“The city attorney position will be filled within the next month to month and a half we anticipate,” Benavides said.
As for Nelson’s former position — which combines the titles of deputy city manager and community development agency director — council members are waiting to see if redevelopment agencies are going to be axed before deciding what to do with that position, Benavides said.
— ADAM ELMAHREK